Monday, December 6, 2010


The centerpiece scene in this film, the scene which this somewhat horrible and sensationalist poster references--a scene of a white teenage girl lost in the Australian outback swimming in a rock pool while her younger brother and their befriended aborigine explore and hunt---is perhaps one of the best erotic scenes I have ever not been aroused by. It is a beautiful scene, but not a sexy scene, and that is its triumph. It's flesh, but it is flesh as life not flesh as object; it is flesh as subject in nature, as subject of nature, as a thing unto itself--warm, vital, nascent, and feather-like fragile. Nicolas Roeg finds the balance that so many lesser directors, fumbling to portray innocence from their own so-experienced position, often trip over. The scene is about innocence and sexual naivety awakening to, and glorying in, its own sensuality while still being childishly ignorant of the darker impulses, impulses both from within and from without, that can overcome it and that will, as the film unfolds towards its end, threaten it. But here, now in this scene, there is no hint of shadow. Here there is no outside other. Here are memories of Eden. There is display in the girl's action. She vibrates with sensual energy. But it is an unwitnessed, un-ritual display, a self-display; she swims naked for herself. Here is lightness and water and a camera that, aware of how precarious an edge this moment hangs on, does not gaze but that humbly witnesses. For us watching her swim there is perhaps some voyeurism, but it is voyeurism couched in time and memory--and while we look at the girl, the girl becomes us. 

IMDb. Trailer. Criterion.

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